Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Hooley in Belfast (Day 75)

The One-eyed Man

Writing this one in Terri Hooley’s kitchen with Terri at the table sorting out his Facebook and emails. On the fridge door is a magnet saying “In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”. The weird thing is that is from 4Talent, a Channel 4 talent development initiative I was in charge of establishing in my first years there. It couldn’t have ended up in a more appropriate place after all these years (it must be a good five years old by now, more probably).

Terri Hooley on laptop

I spent the whole of Day 75 in Belfast with Terri, mainly at his Good Vibrations record store on North Street. I picked up a copy of Teenage Kicks there for a fiver. How could you not? – it was on the wall crying out to me. I also picked up a New Order LP with a Saville cover and not much by way of writing – no title or band name as was the Factory way, just FAC153 on the spine.

Good Vibrations records - singles

Terri took me on a tour of the area past the site of Wizard recording studio where Teenage Kicks among other Good Vibes things was recorded. We also went by the site of the Harp Bar, hub of Punk Belfast. We ended in the John Hewitt for a swift pint or three. I’d been there in the past, originally with Peter Logue, then Channel 4′s Man in Northern Ireland, and later with Kev Largey aka KVLR, a (street) artist who I first met through 4Talent – then known as Ideasfactory Northern Ireland – and one of whose pieces appears in Terri’s book Hooleygan.

the john hewitt pub belfast

We headed back to East Belfast to Van territory and Terri’s place to do an interview which was quite revealing about the kind of person Terri is and therefore some of what fuelled his catalysing of Punk in Belfast, which proved to be an important act in the context of the bleak days of The Troubles. He has many things in common with Tony Wilson (and some key differences) but the political dimension and the urgency of need to provide an alternative were particular to Terri’s situation and enabled him to help deliver the Needed Thing at the right time.

Terri Hooley and Teenage Kicks mural Belfast

As we sat up late partaking of some grapejuice, listening to Stuart Bailie’s show on Radio Ulster (with roots in John Peel), news came on about a failed incendiary device attack in Belfast city centre around the time we were in the Hewitt. Some eejit ended up setting himself on fire. Kingdom of the Blind.

Good Vibrations record store Belfast

Terri Hooley in Good Vibrations Belfast record store

Reading between the lines

Today’s editorial in the Daily Mail [and some commentary]

Be careful of buying what Jewish intellectuals like Miliband and Hobsbawn are trying to peddle!

Be careful of buying those degenerate ideas Jewish intellectuals like Miliband and Hobsbawm are trying to peddle!

An evil legacy ["evil": that familiar touch of religious irrationality] and why we won’t apologise [welcome to the angry world where apology, change of mind,  compromise and growth of understanding are not on the agenda]

By DAILY MAIL COMMENT [and Adam Gee Comment]

PUBLISHED: 00:11, 1 October 2013 | UPDATED: 11:48, 1 October 2013

Red Ed’s [an improvement on Red Ken but still childish] in a strop with the Mail. Doubtless, [aren't these the Lynn Truss school of zero-tolerance language fascists? if so, why the comma?] he’s miffed that his conference was overshadowed by the revelations of his former friend, the spin doctor Damian McBride, serialised in this paper, which exposed the poisonous heart of the Labour Party.

Nor did he see the funny side when we ridiculed the yucky, lovey-dovey [boarding school sexual hang-ups emerging] photographs of him and his wife, behaving like a pair of hormonal teenagers in need of a private room.

But what has made him vent his spleen — indeed, he has stamped his feet and demanded a right of reply — is a Mail article by Geoffrey Levy on Saturday about the Labour leader’s late father, Ralph, under the arresting headline ‘The Man Who Hated Britain’. [for "arresting" read 'bears little connection to the substance of the article' / 'attention grabbing' without the need to substantiate its meaning]

Of course, it was not the Mail that first drew the prominent Marxist sociologist Professor Ralph Miliband — a man who was not averse to publicity — into the public arena. This was the decision of his son who, for two years running, has told Labour conferences how his refugee father fled Nazi persecution to Britain. [we wouldn't want our politician's showing any humanity would we?]

More pertinent still, McBride argues that Miliband Jnr is obsessed with maintaining Ralph’s legacy.

Winning the leadership, he writes, was Ed’s ‘ultimate tribute’ to his father — an attempt to ‘achieve his father’s vision’. [The son has made it clear the father did not agree with his politics or have any love for New Labour.]

With this testimony before us, [undue weight on the testimony of a  proven unscrupulous spin-merchant and a flimsy hook to hang a whole article like this on] from a former Labour spin doctor who knew Mr Miliband inside out, the Mail felt a duty [dishonourable behaviour dressed in fake duty and unmerited honour] to lay before our readers the father’s vision that is said to have inspired our would-be next Prime Minister.

How can Ralph Miliband’s vision be declared out of bounds for public discussion [no-one said that, it is the lie of the headline which is the problem - Ed Miliband explicitly stated in The Times (2/10/13): "It's legitimate for the Mail to talk about my father's politics"]  — particularly since he spent his entire life attempting to convert the impressionable young to his poisonous creed? [nobody mention Viscount Rothermere here or his treacherous attempts to "convert the impressionable young to his poisonous creed"]

Today, we stand by every word we published on Saturday, from the headline to our assertion that the beliefs of Miliband Snr ‘should disturb everyone who loves this country’.

In his tetchy and menacing response, which we publish in full on these pages, the Labour leader expresses just pride in his father’s war record as a volunteer in the Royal Navy.

But he cites this, and his father’s affection for his shipmates (which, as shown on these pages, was riven by class hatred), as if it were conclusive proof that he loved this country.

So how is it that shortly after his arrival in Britain, the 17-year-old Miliband senior had confided to his diary [the evidence of a teenage diary not in the child's mother tongue, a bit low and flimsy?]: ‘The Englishman is a rabid nationalist. [The likes of Viscount Rothermere bear this out to a reasonable degree] They are perhaps the most nationalist people in the world . . . you sometimes want them almost to lose [the war] to show them how things are’?
 Isn’t it permissible to surmise that a man who had expressed such views joined the Royal Navy not so much to fight for Britain as to fight, like the Soviet Union, against the Nazis? [It's permissible to surmise but surmising isn't worth a hill of beans.]

Yes, as his son argues, Mr Miliband Snr may have felt gratitude for the security, freedom and comfort he enjoyed in Britain.

But what is blindingly clear from everything he wrote throughout his life is that he had nothing but hatred [strong word - where do they get that from? Isn’t it permissible for an academic in a democracy to question its institutions? We are talking about a country in a period where the Police have been proven to have lied on a mass scale over Hillsborough; the Journalists have been proven to have breached the privacy of all manner of citizens; the Members of Parliament have been proven to feather their own nests with public money; etc. etc.]  for the values, traditions and institutions — including our great schools [that must mean the private ones e.g. 'One in four boys is labelled as having special educational needs as state schools rake in funds' (Mail headline 31 July 2013)], the Church [oh, is that this Church? 'Church of England to admit 'deep grief and shame' in an historic apology for child sex abuse' (Mail headline 6 July 2013)], the Army and even the Sunday papers [like The News of the World?] — that made Britain the safe and free nation in which he and his family flourished.

The constitutional monarchy, the bicameral legislature, property rights, common law . . . even ‘respectability’ and ‘good taste’ — all were anathema to this lifelong, unreconstructed Marxist who craved a workers’ revolution.

Significantly, when he defended students for silencing a visiting speaker with whom they disagreed, he wrote: ‘Freedom of speech is not always the overriding criterion.’

As for the Falklands war, our defence of British sovereignty so appalled him that it moved him to four-letter words of disgust.

At the London School of Economics, he was taught and heavily influenced by the extremist Left-winger Harold Laski, who said the use of violence was legitimate in British elections. One of his closest friends was Eric Hobsbawm (though, as we reported, at least Miliband wouldn’t join his fellow Marxist in refusing to condemn Stalinism’s mass murders or the brutal Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956). [According to Ralph Miliband's obituary in that known hothouse of left-wing views, The Times of London: "he was in no sense a rigid Marxist, never a member of the Communist Party and a strong anti-authoritarian"]

It is all too easy today to forget that Marxism supplied the philosophical underpinning to a monstrously evil regime.

Under Stalin’s Communism, countless millions were murdered, tortured, starved to death, executed or sent to endure a sub-human existence in the gulags.

Religion, the family and the very spirit of the individual were brutally crushed. The arts, newspapers — justice itself — were ruthlessly controlled by the commissars.

Freedom of expression was purged. Even as late as the Seventies, dissidents were locked in mental asylums, while the Press was controlled by the State for another two decades.

Truly, Ralph Miliband and Hobsbawm were, in the withering phrase often attributed to Lenin, the ‘useful idiots’ who validated this most pernicious doctrine, which has spread poverty and misery wherever it has triumphed.

That’s why the Mail — which is not Pravda — said that readers who love this country would be truly disturbed if they understood about Miliband’s father’s views.

We do not maintain, like the jealous God of Deuteronomy, [not so subtle Jewish reference] that the iniquity of the fathers should be visited on the sons. But when a son with prime ministerial ambitions swallows his father’s teachings, as the younger Miliband appears to have done [no evidence, in fact signs to the contrary], the case is different.

Indeed, his son’s own Marxist values can be seen all too clearly in his plans for state seizures of private land held by builders and for fixing energy prices by government diktat. [better to let them get fixed by fakely competitive semi-monopolies and cartel-like behaviour, with a bit of mis-selling and deliberate obfuscation of pricing thrown in for good measure?]

More chillingly, the father’s disdain for freedom of expression can be seen in his son’s determination to place the British Press under statutory control. [ah, so that's what this is all really about...]

Next week the Privy Council, itself an arm of the state, will meet to discuss plans — following a stitch-up with Hacked Off over late-night pizzas [the Mail must be miffed they didn't have the obligatory Byron burgers] in Mr Miliband’s office — for what will ultimately be a politically controlled body to oversee what papers are allowed to publish.

Put to one side that Mr Miliband’s close involvement with degenerates [the degenerate  whose testimony is the rationale for this whole article? "degenerate" "entartet" a good Nazi word]  such as Damian McBride gives him scant right to claim the moral high ground on anything.

If he crushes the freedom of the Press, no doubt his father will be proud of him from beyond the grave, where he lies 12 yards from the remains of Karl Marx.

But he will have driven a hammer [a bit too blunt?] and sickle through the heart of the nation so many of us ["us" - now there's a poser] genuinely love. [hate masquerading as love - the essence of the Mail]

Honest Serving People


united nations logo ID symbol
The debate about Syria and the use of chemical weapons as conducted in the UK and beyond these last few days has been marked by lack of clarity and thoroughness in the thinking. In such circumstances it never hurts to fall back on Kipling’s Six Honest Serving Men to make sure you have the basics addressed:

I KEEP six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

  • What happened in Syria last week? Were chemical weapons used?
  • Who used them?
  • What can be done about it?
  • Who should carry out the response? Where is it most in the national interest to get involved?
  • How will military action help?
  • What will happen as a result? And when will it end?

I’ve traded in my Why for an extra What because the Why is very complex in itself: Why should we respond to the use of Chemical Weapons? Why do we distinguish them from say cluster bombing? Why do the current lead voices reckon they have moral authority when they have used napalm, agent orange, white phosphorus, depleted uranium and the like themselves, even in recent times?

I have a strong conviction, for these and other reasons, that any action to be taken, diplomatic/political or military, needs to be multilateral, preferably through the UN. Whether the United Nations Security Council is up to the job will be tested again. With two major powers who seem to conduct their foreign affairs consistently with no moral dimension it’s a body which really needs to justify its existence. It would be good to find a way to get Russia and China to actually suggest solutions. Likewise it would be good to put a bit more of the onus on the Arab League to see if they can contribute something positive to the world.

In the meantime I’d strongly encourage UK citizens to make their views clearly known by writing to their Member of Parliament via MySociety’s brilliant Write to Them service, the easiest way to get an email off to your elected representative in a matter of moments.

Ways to spend £10 million #23

Old enmities are set aside for the day

thatcher funeral

AspirationNation: Work Hard and Die

One of these is from a real Conservatives leaflet published in the wake of yesterday’s budget, I kid you not (guess which one)

Tory poster

Tory poster Responsible

Tory poster Drop

36DD-Day

36DD-Day

2nd edition of today’s historic currant bun

Keeping Track

This is the best thing I did at work today, 3rd August, the day the track and field started in the Olympic Stadium in East London – and the day when Jesse Owens won the first of his four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. I managed to get him on the home page of the London 2012 website (where I’m working as a Gamesmaker volunteer).

Jesse comes home – 76 years on to the day

Meanwhile, I’ve just taken out two books my grandfather fled from Germany with in 1938. On the fly-leaf is the writing of his sister Else who was killed by the Nazis in 1943 (it was a Christmas present from her in December 1936). The publishers of this record of the XI Olympiad couldn’t write Jesse out of the history but they do their best to undermine his achievements with the racist cartoon below his photograph. But he’s the one we remember and honour.

in memoriam Else Gewurtz

in memoriam Jesse Owens

Venceremos

From The Independent today…

France and Spain back down on fish discards after internet campaign

MARTIN HICKMAN    MONDAY 19 MARCH 2012
France and Spain today backed down over a plan to carry on throwing dead fish overboard after an internet campaign organised by a television chef.

Prior to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s social networking campaign, the two countries had been hoping to persuade fellow fisheries ministers to sign a declaration opposing a ban on discards, when trawlers exceeding their allowable catch throw back fish into the sea dead.

More than 130,000 Twitter and Facebook messages were sent to ministers urging them to oppose the draft declaration and France and Spain did not insist on a vote. Britain’s fisheries minister Richard Benyon went into the meeting saying he would oppose France and Spain. The EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki now looks likely to phase out discards over four years, by reforming the Common Fisheries Policy in a way that ultimately kills fewer fish.

Last night Fearnley-Whittingstall told supporters: “I’m coming back on the Eurostar and it’s been a satisfying day. Discard disaster has been averted as the French, Spanish, Portguese and Belgian revolution just didn’t happen. Maria Damanaki led from the front and seems to be building consensus among the ministers. Everyone agreed that the amazing Twitter and Facebook activity over the weekend made a real difference.”

***

136,000 tweets were published between Saturday and when the EU Fisheries Ministers gathered in Brussels on Monday morning, addressed directly to each Minister in his/her own language.

To top off a moment of victory, this evening Hugh’s Fish Fight won the RTS Award for Best Popular Factual Programme, the citation [below] highlighting the importance of the multiplatform element. Hugh was delighted and is raring to move on with the follow-up series this year which will cover events like yesterday in Brussels.

“An interesting, watchable and accessible series of clever and effortless campaigning. The presenter is an amazing advocate, demonstrates admirable tenacity and gains unbelievable access. The series is also distinctive in terms of online innovation and activity.”

This is the second time this year a resolutely TV-centric awards has picked up on the multiplatform dimension of Fishfight, indicating the increasingly mainstream character of Multiplatform. Last month Fishfight won the Best Popular Factual Programme category of the Broadcast Awards, run by the industry’s tradepaper. The citation included:

“A passionate, uncompromising programme that made a potentially dull subject fascinating – and with superb use of multiplatform.”

Tipping the hat to Hugh’s previous campaign, Chicken Out, I conclude with a traditional little joke: Why did the Belgian chicken cross the road?

(Because there’s fuck all else to do in Brussels.) Not like the London chicken then.

{Article reproduced courtesy of The Independent.}

The Great British Property Scandal

So here’s what it’s all about:

After just over 24 hours more than 52,000 have joined the campaign

Our Intrepid Leader (George 'Homeboy' Clarke)

It’s been a pretty tough project but that backing plus the following have made it worth the blood, sweat and tears: before the season even started transmitting this multiplatform commission prompted a debate about the senseless waste of empty homes in the House of Commons. I’m just back from an event in Parliament with George Clarke fronting our C4 delegation to rally more MPs behind the initiative, including the committed Lib-Dem Andrew Stunell and the shadow minister for Housing Jack Dromey.

George with The Great British Property Scandal literally on his mind

Here’s the extract from Hansard:

29 Nov 2011:

Empty Homes

Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con): It is an honour to have secured this Adjournment debate on empty homes. It is an issue that I and many Members on both sides of the Chamber have raised in recent weeks and months. Indeed, only last week, three Members asked about empty homes during the ministerial statement on housing.

I became involved in the issue of empty homes because of my deep concern about overdevelopment in my Colne Valley constituency in west Yorkshire. It is home to the lovely towns of Slaithwaite, Marsden, Holmfirth, Honley, the Huddersfield suburbs of Lindley and Birchencliffe and many more beautiful areas. I was concerned that our beautiful Pennine countryside was set to be dug up for new identikit homes.

The idea of green fields being developed is bad enough, but it defies all logic to be doing it while thousands of existing empty properties are being left to rot. In fact, my local council, Kirklees, has just voted for a local development framework that will impose 22,470 new homes in the district over the next 15 years, with some going on green belt. I say, bring Britain’s empty homes back into use first.

There is a groundswell of support for the empty homes campaign. I have to admit that I am a big fan of Channel 4 shows such as “Grand Designs” and “Restoration Man”. The presenter of the latter show, George Clarke, will be telling the nation about the scandal of Britain’s empty homes in a forthcoming series on Channel 4 next Monday and Tuesday evening—that is the plug out of the way.

What is an empty home? Homes are left empty for a number of reasons—for example, when they are between tenants, being refurbished, in probate or when the owner is in care or hospital. For the purposes of this campaign and this debate, however, we are primarily talking about long-term empty homes. These are properties that are stuck empty, and I believe that getting those houses back into use could be a quick and relatively inexpensive way of providing more housing.

7.17 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Andrew Stunell): Like my hon. Friend, I have been in contact with George Clarke and Channel 4, and I am happy to add a second endorsement of the programme on empty homes that they are developing. He, I and they are appalled at the scandal that 250,000 properties [see how the Government manage to make 100,000 disappear - just like that?] are empty when millions of people are on waiting lists, anxiously looking for homes and unable to find them. As well as being eyesores and as well as easily falling into disrepair, empty homes are often an expensive menace to communities and public services, attracting antisocial behaviour, squatting and vandalism.

The Government know very well that we need to build more homes, more quickly, and the housing strategy statement made in the House by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Local Government last Monday shows real earnest intent. At the same time, we have to make better use of our existing homes, as that is better for communities, for the environment and for the families who have the new home to live in. We have been working on ways to bring empty homes back into use, and tackling those homes is one of the key pledges that we made in the housing strategy.

Add your name to the campaign to fill Britain’s empty homes here

Here’s the season trail:

Update 8/12/11:

It’s Thursday night now, 72 hours on, and we have over 91,000 signed-up supporters on the site. Way beyond my expectations. 100,000 is a key number as that enables a parliamentary debate to be triggered. Turn, little counter, turn.

Bitter Crop

The night before last the New York jazz club of the 30s and 40s Cafe Society was recreated in London at the Purcell Room on the South Bank for one night only. The club was set up in 1938 as an alternative to the largely segregated, mob-run nightclubs then on offer. Behind it was Barney Josephson, the New Jersey-born son of Jewish immigrants from Latvia. His declared ambition was to create ”a club where blacks and whites worked together behind the footlights and sat together out front”. His socialist tendencies are well captured in the club’s motto: The wrong place for the Right people.

Cafe Society was opened in 1938 by Billie Holiday and it was there within the year that she unleashed upon the world Strange Fruit, a song like no other. Picking up on my earlier post about great song lines, Shelter from the Storm, there is one line in this poem turned song that ranks among the all-time great song lines:

Pastoral scene of the gallant South

If you ever wanted to illustrate irony… that word “gallant” kills off a view of the Confederacy in one mighty blow. When Holiday first heard the lyrics her one question was: what does ‘pastoral’ mean? Which is ironic in itself in that her whole being understood what Strange Fruit meant which is why she made the song so much her own.

With the same irony that has Danny Boy being composed by an English lawyer, it was actually written by a white man, a Jewish school teacher called Abel Meeropol – pen name Lewis Allan, after two children he lost in their infancy. Meeropol’s motivation was simple: “I wrote Strange Fruit because I hate lynching and I hate injustice and I hate the people who perpetuate it.”

Here’s the poem he brought to Holiday and Josephson at Cafe Society, already set to music, already performed in obscure left-wing circles, ripe for the magic of a singer who could perform it from her soul and evolve it into something uniquely powerful.

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,

Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant South,

The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,

Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,

And the sudden smell of burning flesh!

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,

For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,

For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,

Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Holiday delivered this body blow to audiences throughout her career – here’s one later take on it (the instability of the picture seems to suit the song, as if it can’t fully be retained by the technology):

 

Update 19.xi.11

Barney Josephson didn’t seem to have his own Wikipedia entry so I’ve just made him one

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